the fickle world of country music, where to stay in radio
demand artists have to keep topping their last success, it’s
pleasing to hear some like to make music for music’s sake.
Take Patty Loveless. She’s released Sleepless Nights,
a 14-track appreciative nod to songs that have gone the
distance. It’s a pleasing release. And it’s pleasing for
many valid reasons.
husband Emory Gordy, Jr. in tow, Loveless breathes love and
life into some classics on this covers album. I’ve mostly
shrieked and cowered from such albums, believing to tamper
with timeless originals amounts to foolishness for the
artist and a waste of hard gained dollars for consumers.
convincingly, the vital Loveless has proved me wrong.
Blessed with one of the more distinctive voices in country,
she wins the listener easily with a range of songs more
polished than tampered.
With a slew of
females doing the rounds, mostly same-sounding with the same
glossed and tweaked voice and range, Loveless stands out and
stands tall. She’s served the apprenticeship, having
received a guitar at age 11 and song writing not long after.
She’s honed her craft, done the treadmill of hard yards, so
it’s fitting she should approach some dusted and true
country with a deserved confidence.
And, that, she has.
Heartache and misery
never sounded sweeter. Infused with just enough players and
instruments to make the sound spare but ample, Loveless
signs and seals as her own some memorable moments. For this
pure-voiced distant cousin to Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gail,
tracks like “Why Baby Why”, “He Thinks I Still Care”, the
lonely ache (helped by Vince Gill on harmony vocals) of
“Sleepless Nights” and the Webb Pierce wailer “There Stands
The Glass” are all keepers.
Ray Price’s 1956
honky-tonk Billboard County Chart #1, “Crazy Arms”, receives
this reviewer’s stamp of approval, too. With a rich, clear
and soaring voice, Loveless weaves her vocal feel around the
pedal steel, not crowding, not overshadowing, but just
making the track her own.
And, in essence,
that’s the winning formula at play here. Loveless makes
these dated gems her own. There’s no need to clone a sound,
mimic a style, as she knows, instinctively, what works and
The final words
belong to the Kentucky songbird, who told a journalist some
time back: “ I’ve never been one to carry a banner of
traditional country. But that’s what happened with me; and I
do think that I do the traditional style well.”
country soul of Patty Loveless, as heard on Sleepless
Nights, is out now on Saguaro Records.
1. WHY BABY WHY
2. THE PAIN OF LOVING YOU
3. HE THINKS I STILL CARE
4. SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
5. CRAZY ARMS
6. THERE STANDS THE GLASS
7. THAT'S ALL IT TOOK
8. COLOR OF THE BLUES
9. I FORGOT MORE THAN YOU'LL EVER KNOW
10. NEXT IN LINE
11. DON'T LET ME CROSS OVER
12. PLEASE HELP ME, I'M FALLING
13. THERE GOES MY EVERYTHING
14. COLD, COLD HEART